Potato Bug

Potato Bug

Subject: Meet my newest, weirdest friend…
Location: San Diego, CA
October 13, 2014 12:22 am
Hey guys,
I’m baffled. Found this guy skittering along the sidewalk in front of a friend’s house around midnight. Looks like some kind of huge, wingless wasp/ant/kewpie doll. It’s thorax, legs & head are all “ant red”, if you will, while its abdomen is this incredible striped black & gold. Couldn’t tell if he has a stinger, but he’s pretty big (thumb-sized) and has great legs. When we locked eyes (yes, he’s big enough that I could see them clearly), I could swear we shared a moment. Hahaha!
Signature: Bella

Potato Bug

Potato Bug

Dear Bella,
This magnificent and unforgettable insect is a Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket, two common names for an unusual group of insects in the genus
Stenopelmatus.  Potato Bugs are rather iconic Southern California insects, and their large size and humanoid appearance make them one of our most frequent identification requests.  They are very common, though they are not encountered that often because, according to BugGuide:  “Most of their lives are spent underground. Damp, sandy soil is preferred.”

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Swallowtail Caterpillar Aggregation

Swallowtail Caterpillar Aggregation

Subject: Caterpillar orgy
Location: Antigua, Guatemala
October 13, 2014 8:40 am
Hey Bugman,
I was planting a bunch of ginger in my garden here in Antigua, Guatemala yesterday and noticed an odd discoloration on the base of my lime tree.
When I went in a bit closer I realized it was about three dozen of these caterpillars, who decided to crop dust me en masse with their osmeterium (or as I prefer to call them, Angry Caterpillar Fart Getaway Tubes®.)
What gives? Did the Caligula of caterpillars suddenly move in, or is this some kind of protective herd behavior against predators?
Also, any help in identifying these little hedonists would be appreciated.
Signature: Ornery Regarding Gassy Youths

Swallowtail Caterpillar Aggregation

Swallowtail Caterpillar Aggregation

Dear Ornery,
These sure look like Ruby Spotted Swallowtail Caterpillars to us, a species in which the caterpillars are social, often being found in large aggregations.
  According to the Butterflies and Moths of North America, the caterpillars of the Ruby Spotted Swallowtail, Papilio anchisiades, feed on the leaves of:  “Trees in the citrus (Rutaceae) family including Citrus, Casimiroa, and Zanthoxylum species” and “Caterpillars rest in clusters on host plant during the day and feed at night; they all feed and molt at the same time.”  This communal activity must have some survival benefit for the species, and the group effect of the olfactory defense mechanism must be more effective than the smell produced by a single individual.  The adult Ruby Spotted Swallowtail is a pretty butterfly.

Thanks so much for the rapid reply! The Ruby Spotted Swallowtail is indeed quite beautiful. I have been a big fan of WTB for years and it has helped me identify dozens of critters. Keep up the great work.

Trapdoor Spider, we believe

Trapdoor Spider, we believe

Subject: Unidentified Kentucky Spider
Location: Louisville, Kentucky.
October 12, 2014 6:25 pm
A friend and I found a spider that we can’t identify, we’ve lived in Louisville all our lives and are outdoorsman and we’ve never seen any spider like it before. It looks a lot bulkier than anything we’ve had around here, almost like a small tarantula but we can’t find anything similar to it anywhere online. We were thinking maybe someone let a bunch of infant tarantula’s loose from a pregnant pet after they hatched and we found one.
Signature: Regards, Stephen.

Hi Stephen,
We wish your image had more detail, because though we believe we have correctly identified your spider as a Trapdoor Spider in the genus
Antrodiaetus, we are not entirely certain.  Your individual looks very much like this individual posted to BugGuide that was found in Pennsylvania.  Along with Tarantulas, Trapdoor Spiders are classified in the Infraorder Mygalomorphae, the most primitive group of spiders.  Another, less likely possibility is a female Southern House Spider, also pictured on BugGuide,  which BugGuide describes as:  “Females are frequently mistaken for small tarantulas or trapdoor spiders. Males are often mistaken for recluse spiders (Loxosceles). This is a totally harmless species that builds “messy” webs emanating from crevices, often on the outside of homes.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Female Carolina Mantis

Female Carolina Mantis

Subject: Mantis?
Location: Tree in Maryland
October 12, 2014 4:47 pm
I was taking my students outside and we saw this “bug” on a tree. Is it a type of Mantis?
Signature: Mr. Burk

Dear Mr. Burk,
You are correct that this is a Mantis.  We believe it is a female Carolina Mantis based on its resemblence to this individual posted to BugGuide.

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Bug found on Baby

Bug found on Baby

Subject: found this bug on my baby
Location: hudson ny
October 9, 2014 9:34 am
I went to changed my babys diaper and this bug was on her leg. Not sure what it is. Pic is hard to see im sorry but hopefully itll be of some help. It is brown has 6 legs and whatappears to be antennas . It widens towards his butt.
Signature: kim kallo

Dear Kim,
There is not enough detail in your image to make an identification.  We suggest you search through our Household Pests tag to help identify undesirable insects that can be found in the home.

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What killed the Hanging Thief???

What killed the Hanging Thief???

Subject: large Mosquioto like thing
Location: Mobile Bay, Mobile, AL
October 10, 2014 10:59 am
Do you have any idea what this guy is? I would hate for it to bite me.
Signature: tonyh

Hi Tonyh,
This is a predatory Robber Fly in the genus
Diogmites, and members of the genus are commonly called Hanging Thieves.  We personally think that Hanging Thieves look much better living than dead.  Hanging Thieves are adept predators that take prey on the wing, and they often feed on large stinging insects like wasps.  Though we would not discount the possibility of being bitten by a Hanging Thief, we have never received any reports of such a bite and from all we have read, Hanging Thieves are not interested in biting humans.  Because it appears that this Hanging Thief has met with an unnatural end at human hands, we are tagging this posting as Unnecessary Carnage and we hope that should you encounter a Hanging Thief again in the future, that it be allowed to fly off to live a full life preying on other flying insects.

Thank you for the reply.  This guy managed to get into the bar at the local yacht club and a frightened member read a page of the local news paper to him.  Too bad since he is a predator of the bugs that pester us the most down on the water.  I will post the info from below to the yacht club web site in hopes of educating the membership and saving the next hanging Thief we encounter.
Thank you again for the info.
Tony Hines.
here is a link to the post on FB.  We will try to do better next time:

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